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Federal sex offender caught

A federal sex offender who failed to return to his Vancouver halfway house has been arrested in Quebec. 

Joseph Davis, 47, a fourth-time federal offender, was serving a four-year sentence for sexual assault. 

He failed to return for his evening curfew on Feb. 11 and a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest. 

“Vancouver Police Department provided the public with additional information on Valentine's Day, including a description a Mercedes SUV that Davis purchased,” said Const. Jason Doucette.

He was arrested early on Sunday morning while driving the SUV and acknowledge the media attention about his warrant.

This wasn't the first time Davis was wanted by police. In 2017, Davis was wanted Canada-wide for violating a long-term supervision order and was unlawfully at large.

Police said in December 2007, Davis sexually assaulted a real estate agent in Winnipeg, Man., after luring her to his home.

In 2001, he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm and forcible confinement of a female sex trade worker he invited to his residence.

Davis now remains in custody. 





Bollywood brawl, stabbing

A Bollywood banquet turned violent Friday night when a young man was stabbed.

A brawl broke out at the Bollywood Banquet Halls in Surrey, and police found a 20-year-old man suffering from multiple stab wounds and bleeding from his head.

A stampede of people poured out onto the street as the concert was shut down, CTV News reports.

RCMP say the victim is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries.

No arrests have been made.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



More scandal brewing

More damaging reports are expected in B.C.'s legislature scandal.

Alan Mullen, chief of staff to Speaker Darryl Plecas, says a rebuttal to detailed statements by senior officers at the legislature will be issued this week, CTV News reports.

Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz have denied any wrongdoing in the scandal over alleged inappropriate spending.

Mullen says the latest document will contain new information and clarification.

“It is nothing but evidence-based, and I think everyone’s going to be very interested to see the response,” Mullen told CTV.

A second report will also focus on current and former employees.

“People will say 'Wow, well, stop the presses,'” he added. “We’re talking about a lot of serious information here – people who are suicidal because of their treatment and lots of damaging stuff coming there.”

He called the scandal “the tip of the iceberg.”

James and Lenz are on administrative leave with pay, and two special prosecutors are overseeing an RCMP investigation into the matter. None of the allegations has been proven in court, however.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



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Driving a rolling igloo

Coastal drivers may not be used to driving in the recent snow, but common sense dictates you brush the white stuff off before hitting the highway.

Yet another driver was spotted in suburban Victoria, driving on the Trans-Canada Highway near Langford with a car half covered in thick snow, CTV News reports.

Candace Verners captured images of the vehicle heading onto the highway at the Millstream Overpass.

"He cut us off, and that's how we noticed him," she told CTV.

"They looked over and they smiled and kind of laughed," she said.

Verners posted images to social media to spread the message that not clearing your car can be dangerous.

Not clearing your car can land you a $109 ticket.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island



Budget goes social, green

B.C.'s finance minister says the budget she tables Tuesday undertakes development of social, environmental and economic initiatives as other provinces across Canada implement cuts to programs and shifts to the right.

Carole James says her budget builds on the minority New Democrat government's goals of making life more affordable, improving services and ensuring a sustainable economy.

"I see them as hand in hand," said James in an interview. "The investments we make in people and the investments we make in environment are investments in a sustainable, strong economy."

Prof. David Black said he expects the social and economic agenda laid out in James's budget to contrast sharply with the right-leaning policies in some other provinces.

Manitoba and Ontario have Conservative governments. The Coalition Avenir Quebec government, is essentially conservative, and the Saskatchewan party is right-leaning. Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party in Alberta, meanwhile, is considered the front-runner in this year's Alberta election, said Black, a political communications expert at Royal Roads University in the Victoria area.

"If the Alberta NDP lose in the spring election that leaves six out of 10 provinces with right-of-centre control," he said. "It puts a powerful spotlight on B.C. as a place of social democratic governance."

Black said while many province's fight the federal carbon tax and cut education and child care, B.C. is spending billions on affordable housing, promising 22,000 child-care places and hiring teachers.

James's budget is expected to include new funding for the government's poverty reduction strategy and its Clean BC plan to fight climate change.

Black said the B.C. New Democrats led by Premier John Horgan are on a social building agenda that he labelled "radical pragmatism."

Rather focusing attention on one issue — the environment, economy, education — the New Democrats are touching numerous social concerns that are building large-scale changes, he said.

"It is a much more humble, circumspect, careful, but nonetheless ambitious program of change," said Black. "It's not legislation by thunderbolt. It's a kind of radical pragmatism."

James said B.C.'s growing economy allows the government to pursue social, environmental and economic initiatives.

"Certainly all of our economic indicators are very positive," James said, citing record low jobless rates and solid growth projections. "We're in a strong economic position. It certainly is my plan to go forward with a balanced budget."

She said she expected the government's poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget.

The government passed legislation last year to cut B.C.’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and the child poverty rate by 50 per cent over the first five years of the plan.

The government's Clean BC climate plan, introduced last December, is slated to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050. By 2040, all new cars and trucks sold in B.C. will be zero emission and new buildings will be 80 per cent more efficient than now.

"The poverty strategy will be a priority in this upcoming budget along with Clean BC," said James. "Both of those will certainly have a priority when it comes to budget 2019."



Fatal crash claims life

Vancouver police are investigating the city's fifth fatal crash of 2019.

It happened Saturday just after 11 p.m. when two vehicles collided on Cambie Street at West 57th Avenue, beside Langara Golf Course.

Police say that after the crash one of the vehicles slammed into a utility pole.

They say three people from that vehicle were rushed to hospital, but the driver — a man in his twenties — died.

The two passengers were being treated for serious injuries.

Police say the occupants of the other vehicle were not seriously hurt.

No other information was immediately released.



More fallout for Campbell

A global communications marketing firm says it is suspending its contract with former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell in light of an allegation in a British newspaper that he groped a woman in the United Kingdom.

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July, and was engaged on a part-time basis as a consultant through a retainer agreement.

However, the company says it and Campbell have "mutually decided to suspend their consulting arrangement" until a police investigation in the United Kingdom is complete.

On Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported that London police are investigating a complaint from a woman who was an employee at the Canadian High Commission when Campbell was high commissioner to the U.K.

The newspaper says the complainant alleges she was groped in 2013 and filed a complaint with police in January.

The Metropolitan Police in London could not be reached for comment on Friday or Saturday.

Campbell also could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman issued the following statement on his behalf:

"This complaint was transparently disclosed and became the subject of a full due diligence investigation at the time by the Government of Canada and was found to be without merit."

The Daily Telegraph story includes the woman's name, but The Canadian Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their active consent and was not able to contact the woman.

Campbell was premier of British Columbia from 2001 until 2011. He was appointed high commissioner to the U.K. in 2011 and left the diplomatic post in 2016.



400 vehicles written off

British Columbia's public auto insurer says about 450 vehicles have been written off since sulphuric acid spilled along a busy commuter route near Trail, B.C., in two incidents last spring.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. says there have been more than 4,450 claims received in the wake of the spills but the vast majority of those vehicles were not damaged.

It says it is still in the early stages of a lawsuit but no trial date has been set.

The spills happened on April 10 and May 23, 2018, when tanker trucks owned and operated by Westcan spilled sulphuric acid from Teck's plant in Trail along a stretch of highway near the city.

ICBC filed a notice of civil claim against Teck Metals, Teck Resources, International Raw Materials, Westcan, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the City of Trail, two drivers and the provincial government in October.

Most defendents have filed responses denying responsibility.

The insurer alleges that it has incurred "extraordinary expenses" in investigating and addressing the "enormous volume of claims resulting form the spills, and says the defendents failed to warn the public to avoid the highway.

It also claims the acid was not properly secured and the facility and tankers weren't properly inspected.

When the spills happened, ICBC alleges there was no prompt response, posted warnings or restriction on public access, and the defendents failed to reduce the risk of future spills.

ICBC is seeking costs and damages.

But Teck alleges that ICBC was not obligated to compensate the owners of damaged vehicles under comprehensive or collision insurance and any such payments were voluntary, while Westcan says RCMP should have diverted traffic.

The city says it has no responsibility for road maintenance, including responding to hazardous spills.

The regional district says that while it has an emergency response agreement with Teck, it doesn't consider hazardous spills an emergency.



Measles cases now up to 9

Vancouver Coastal Health says it's facing an "outbreak" of measles with nine cases in the city this month.

The number of confirmed cases more than doubled from four earlier on Friday, when the health authority said all the infections involved three French schools.

Two of the schools are connected by a door and the schools use the same bus company.

Medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden says most of the new confirmed cases are linked to one of the French schools.

She says eight cases were confirmed this week and another unrelated case was confirmed last week, bringing the total to nine this month.

Hayden says many of the people exposed have already been vaccinated, but she's asking anyone who may be at risk to get checked out.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has urged people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the highly infectious disease.

Dix says it's the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are vaccinated and to also think of other people's kids who could be infected.

He says vaccination rates could be higher, and anyone who needs more information should contact their local health authority.



Ancient find at pipeline site

Coastal GasLink says it has suspended pipeline work south of Houston, B.C., while claims of the discovery of Indigenous artifacts on the site are investigated.

The company says it has cordoned off the area, requested that a qualified archeologist visit the site and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission will conduct another site visit to investigate the claims.

It says an archeological impact assessment for the site was approved in 2016, but the company and its archeologists were not able to conduct on-site fieldwork during the regulatory and permitting process due to road access issues.

In a statement, Unist'ot'en clan spokeswoman Freda Huson says their members have been combing the company's construction site for a proposed man camp since heavy machinery turned up the forest floor.

The statement says supporters recovered two stone tools on Wednesday and archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one dates back up to 3500 years.

It says additional stone tools were observed and recorded but the scale and scope of the work requires assistance from professional archeologists.

In an open letter with Huson, archeologists Chelsey Armstrong of the Smithsonian Institution and Ginevra Toniello of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation call for a review of the archeological overview assessment and all archeological permits granted to the company in the territory.

The newly found artifacts reveal that archeological heritage is clearly present and that any assessment should be conducted in consultation with the clan, says the letter addressed to the archeology branch of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline would transport natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to LNG Canada's export terminal in Kitimat on the coast.

In January, the area was the site of a blockade against the pipeline where police moved in and arrested 14 people.

The company says it has approval to build the pipeline from First Nations along the pipeline, but some Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say they haven't given their consent.



Get the feline fixed

A program to cut down on the population of feral cats in the province has been renewed for a 7th year.

An explosion in the number cats has had negative impacts on songbird populations, the primary prey for the felines.

The BC SPCA community animal spay-neuter grant program is accepting applications for grant funding to address cat overpopulation in communities across B.C.

The program has seen demonstrable impacts in seven years, including decreased colony sizes, increased community partnerships and improved health for the cats currently in colonies.

In 2018 it provided funding for grantees across the province, resulting in 830 fixed community cats and cats on First Nation lands, and 52 fixed dogs on First Nation lands - the biggest year for the program to date.

“It’s been exciting to see the results and hear the long-term impact from former grantees,” said Marieke van der Velden, BC SPCA outreach specialist. “Not only do the animals get the spay/neuter surgery but they also receive veterinary care that helps them have a better life.”

As part of the program requirements, free-roaming cats are assessed for sociability and any cats who could live in homes or barns end up being adopted out through rescues and sheltering agencies.

This year the program will continue to target and impact community cats across British Columbia. The program supports non-profit community organizations, veterinarians, First Nation communities and regional and municipal governments working to address pet overpopulation in their local areas.

Funding will be distributed to projects that better the welfare of a community’s most vulnerable companion animals and ensure there is a long-term impact. The application deadline is March 15, 2019. To learn more or apply for a grant, click here.



One-man crime spree

Mounties in Agassiz have shut down a one-man crime spree.

RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail said the unidentified suspect faces numerous charges following his arrest as police investigated a series of thefts in the Agassiz region.

The investigation stemmed from a spike in the number of calls received by the RCMP at the end of November 2018 through January 2019 from homeowners reporting break and enters, theft of automobiles, as well as theft from automobiles.

“From the beginning, we felt the impact these thefts were having on the community – officers worked ceaselessly collecting and examining evidence seized during the investigations,” says Sgt. Darren Rennie of the Agassiz RCMP.  

Evidence gathered by Agassiz police supported by the Lower Mainland Integrated Forensic Identification Section (IFIS) during the investigation linked a suspect targeting unlocked homes and automobiles to a number of the thefts.

On Feb. 7, a 19-year-old man from Chilliwack was arrested and has been charged with three counts of break and enter, attempt to break and enter, theft of a motor vehicle, two counts of attempt to commit theft of motor vehicle, possession of a prohibited firearm, two counts of fail to comply with conditions of a court order.

“Agassiz RCMP continue our investigation into the thefts,” adds Rennie. “Following a thorough investigation police will be submitting all circumstances of the investigation in a report to the BC Prosecution Service for their assessment of additional criminal charges.”



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